What an inspiration if you’ll pardon the pun. Formed in the eternal maelstrom of Jerusalem in 2003, the INSPIRE Collective have worked tirelessly to build bridges across faiths, societies, creative dimensions and social gulfs through unrestrained expression. Bringing over 700 artists into the burning, conflicted heart of the Middle East to create unity, understanding, opportunity and spectacular art, the collective have a quite frankly mind boggling range of projects on the juggle at any one time...
We know you have numerous projects on the flickr site alone, what best describes your role within this community?
First beginning writing INSPIRE as a social message on the streets of Jerusalem, in order to understand my creative perspective I can try to give you a glimpse of the vision that I have. It even extends beyond the world of inspiration…we all have enormous creative potentials. I try to maintain this vision of collective unity that I know we all can achieve and it helps me to see the context of the shows, all the different projects, & everything we do. So that extends to the online world as well. On flickr, we try our best to present authentic high-resolution reflections of our art & curating process.
You guys are involved in so many projects its hard to know where to start. So take us back to where and when Inspire One began…
When I first came to this side of the globe I instantly noticed a dramatic contrast between the calmness and serenity of the actual land and the intensity and violence of the people who are inhabiting the land, so I knew I needed to take a step back and really think about what this area of the world is missing and what I could provide… After about 9 months I knew that the answer I had come to wasn’t just about what the local populations needed but that it would be a struggle to show genuine creative inspiration to those who have to be reminded: and so my Middle Eastern mission began. I wrote (and still write) EXODUS, Idiot The Wise, Seven, & INSPIRE among other things…I am always trying to express potential and realized freedom thru art expression and actions and walking the streets of West and East Jerusalem (big differences in populations) I used my painted expression to elevate my consciousness… the goal of each word or image I make is for the betterment of the people as a whole.
Did you envisage extending into so many areas from the offset or did that evolve over time?
The many projects that we are involved in past and present have all grown organically from inspiration and self determination. Since my vision of social maturity is fairly broad, it becomes easy from that perspective to match any given social issue with an appropriate art action that both causes awareness about the problem, yet offers a directional solution at the same time. The words and images that come from this thought process end up being a creative process. We’re not just cutting a stencil and simply putting it on the street at random (not that there’s anything particularly wrong with that but that just not us), we are people who have thought about, fought about, debated, and then finally created something in the way of a visual solution or message. So then any medium becomes possible…
How many people are involved in INSPIRE Collective and how many artists make up the numbers?
A few months into my painting mission in Jerusalem, I met my wife at a hip-hop open mic some friends and I were organizing. At this point my wife and I are the sole originators of INSPIRE Collective. The numbers of people that we have exhibited here are about 1,000 to date, so at any given time the visual representation of what the collective is showing is organically rotational…but like I said before , we’re not limiting our cooperative abilities, we could be working with any number of new artists that we’re just discovering. We want to extend a global idea that others can do this to… to say to the hopeful person, “You ARE the collective!” … Cooperation is magic…try it sometime; you’ll see. No seriously, try it!
How big is the street art scene in Israel?
From top to bottom of the country, there are about 100 motivated people who maintain the visual presence in the streets …but, asking me, personally, I would have to change your question’s terminology a bit…I guess folks would just have to be here as well to know what its like. Having not grown up here, yet seeing the intense oppression, I would say describe myself as a soldier for humanity or some sort of art therapist on a kind of frontline…most places on the planet we confronted with different “cultural” concentration of fascism…Here, we are always confronted with the idea of nationalism and we see how it separates…how it tries to provide you with an ID as a child, before you get a chance to find out what that word means outside of their context…We have a life to live, beyond them…and every time we find our self-determination, we prove it by direct action. This may sound familiar with some of your readers…it simply means that a corrupt system of defaults exists for them to on some level and we all need to rid our lives of oppression in any form…collectively as groups nationalistic environments, for example, once we surround ourselves with walls for any reason whatsoever, we really have to ask: “Are those walls there to keep others out or to keep me in!”. To answer you’re question directly as I can is to call for action! We need help to both destroy and rebuild! The streets here NEED positive change. Get in contact with us: InspireCollective@gmail.com
READ FULL INTERVIEW FREE IN LSD MAGAZINE ISSUE 7